by Greg Spearritt
''It is simply economically irresponsible and morally wrong to steal the inheritance from the next generation and leave them with a legacy of debt so we can maintain our lifestyle today.''
So says Government leader in the Australian Senate, the Hon. Eric Abetz. His moral outrage, exclusively restricted to economics, contrasts interestingly with a view put by the Anglican General Synod in early July: it noted “with deep regret that it is future generations and other forms of life who will bear the real cost of our heavy dependence on carbon-based energy”.
Whether there really is a serious budget situation is a moot point. What is unarguable is that the Abbott government sees no climate emergency on the horizon: despite lukewarm and vague assurances about ‘direct action’, there is simply no comparable outrage that we may be stealing from our own children (as well as many of the world’s poor, especially in low-lying areas) to maintain our high-carbon-emitting habits today.
The Anglican General Synod is not alone. Many of those traditionally concerned about morality mention climate change as a real priority to be addressed. Singing from a similar hymn sheet for some time on the significance of global warming have been The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, The World Council of Churches, Australia’s Uniting Church and Australia’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, among others.
13 of the 14 warmest years on record have been in the 21st century, according to the World Meteorological Organization. From our own Bureau of Meteorology we learn that 2013 was Australia’s warmest year since records began; that year broke records for the hottest day, month and season. (And yes, it’s largely anthropogenic, according to the CSIRO.)
Senator Abetz is correct: stealing from the next generation is morally wrong.
Some in big business acknowledge the point - the CEO of Olam International:
"My view is that there is no point if I say I've generated half-a-billion after tax earnings, but I've depleted $200 million of natural capital from the environment.
"Because then I've got to question myself, what is the point of all this overwhelming effort if at the end of the day you've really depleted the natural capital and left a huge bill to pay for future generations?"
Posted by Greg